On the 12th November, in just a 24-hour period, Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and rockets fired into Israel resulted in the death of at least 34 Palestinians, including eight children. Some of the victims were within the same family.
Al-Zahraa*, 16, sent us her reflections on this latest escalation and the impact it has had on her and other children in Gaza:
“It’s mid-term exams for schools in Gaza and my father wakes us up at dawn to pray. We get ready and put our school uniforms on, but before we can leave my father comes quickly and tells us that the situation outside is bad.”
Reham*, 15 – “Everything suddenly jumped in the air and the electricity cut. Everything around my house looked dirty, scary and black like death.”
Al-Zahraa*, 16 – “We rush to look at the news and everything is sad and painful. School is cancelled and we are in a state of war. This is how we started our morning in Gaza. It’s not our fault. We are only victims.”
Ahmed*, 16 – “My feeling was not a fear of dying, no, I was afraid that something would happen to the people that I love.”
A young girl with a broken heart
For her 13th birthday, all Lina* wanted was to celebrate with her family but instead she was faced with a situation that would change her life forever. She woke to find her brothers crying and half of her house destroyed. “What happened? What happened?” she cried, calling for her parents. But Lina’s cries were in vain and no one answered. Both her parents had been killed in the airstrike.
Hala*, 17 – “I can’t just tell you my feelings in a few words, I am still in shock, it’s out of anyone’s control.”
A loss that will only grow
Manal* is only one month old and the only survivor of an attack on her family home in Gaza. Having lost eight members of her family, Manal’s trauma is unimaginable and her mental wellbeing extremely vulnerable. Another story of a family torn apart. A child robbed of the right to be with their mother or father.
Walid*, 16 – “It’s a mixed feeling between fear and sadness. When I say fear, I mean fear of losing one of my family or friends, but sadness when I see videos of mothers who’ve lost their children.”
This is our message to the rest of the world:
Al-Zahraa*, 16 – “We are young children who are growing up witnessing inhumane and aggressive actions in every war. We are not numbers. We are the human stories hidden behind the scenes.”
Warda*, 17 – “In this escalation (referencing November 12th), we have lost 34 dreams, stories and hopes, and now the sky embraces them with feelings full of pain and longing for them.”
Ruba*, 15 – “It’s a bad feeling when you don’t know if you will stay alive or die. This is what we feel in every war.”
Asma*, 15 – “I am just afraid of loss”.
This is our message of rejecting, refusing and insisting, we will not forget our demolished homes and we call upon you to stand with us against attacks on children.
Written by Al-Zahraa, age 16 years
What can you do now?